Visitors

 

The “Visitors” were those who left small tidbits about the Ladies in letters, or diaries, etc. They are listed here, for ease of reference. Should you have anyone to add to the list, do let me know!

Mary Brunton
Lord Byron
George Canning
Caroline, Princess of Wales
Thomas Creevey
Lord Edward FitzGerald & Mr. William Ogilvie
Madame de Genlis
The Gosling family
Anne Lister
Mary Elizabeth Lucy (née Williams)

Charles Mathews
John Murray

Prince Pückler-Muskau
Thomas de Quincey

Sir Walter Scott & J.G. Lockhart
Anna Seward
W.T. Simpson
Robert Southey
Lady Louisa Stuart
Melesina Trench
Richard Twining
The Countess of Upper Ossory & Horace Walpole
The Wordsworth family
Post-1831 Visitors
Latter-Day Visitors

 

Plas Newydd is the place they visited: 

Thursday, 5th January 1791 “We this day completed the Purchase of our House.
— Eleanor Butler, in her journal* 

* quoted in Mavor, p. 181.

 

Plas Newydd (“plass no-with”: New Hall) in Llangollen should not be confused with the National Trust property of the same name (a former home of the Marquess of Anglesey and located at Llanfairpwll on the Isle of Anglesey).  Our Plas Newydd, a small and cosy cottage made into a curiosity by the addition of much wood ornamentation, was the home – for about fifty years – of Sarah Ponsonby and Eleanor Butler, known collectively as “The Ladies of Llangollen.”

In 1796, Anna Seward  wrote about the house, and its situation: 

            Certainly this interesting retreat of Lady Eleanor Butler, and Miss Ponsonby, might have been placed where it would have had sublimer scenic accompaniments — but its site is sufficiently lovely, sufficiently romantic.  When two females meant to sit down for life in a sylvan retirement, with a small establishment of servants, it became necessary that the desire of landscape-charms should become subservient to the more material considerations of health, protection, and convenience. Their scene, not on those wild heights which must have exposed them to the mountain storms, is yet on a dry gravelly bank, favourable to health and exercise, and sheltered by a back-ground of rocks and hills.  Instead of seeking the picturesque banks of the dashing river, foaming through its craggy channel, and whose spray and mists must have been confined, and therefore unwholesome, by the vast rocks and mountains towering on either hand, they contented themselves with the briery dell and its prattling brook, which descend abruptly from a reach of that winding walk, which forms the bounds of their smiling, though small domain.  Situated in an opener part of the valley, they breathe a purer air, while their vicinity of the town of Langollen affords the comforts of convenience, and the confidence of safety. (Letter to Mary Powys) 

And 33 years later, in an 1829 letter, publisher John Murray had this to say: 

            The cottage is remarkable for the taste of its appropriate fitting up with ancient oak, presented by different friends, from old castle and monasteries, &c., none of it of less antiquity than 1200 years. 

 In 2002, the Western Mail (Cardiff) ran an article on an 1805 land deed signed by Sarah and Eleanor — when it came up for auction at Sotheby’s. 

Today, Plas Newydd is a museum run by the Denbigh County Council.  A superb hand-held audio guide system enables visitors to gather information about the house and its inhabitants; there are also guided tours of the servantsquarters.  It is open Easter to October, 10:00-5:00.  Website (with pictures); BBC website on the Ladies & Plas Newydd; the Denbighshire.gov website; the Llangollen.org website.

*

As part of the publicity for her novel, Love, above the reach of time, author Anne M. Curren provides a virtual tour of Plas Newydd, in drawing and photograph; the “gothick decoration” of the entry hall (including the black & white floor, the installation of which Eleanor proudly recorded in her diary); the bedchamber, as it appears to visitors today; the dining room, with its beautiful stained glass; the reconstructed gardens; St. Colleen’s Church (the final resting place for Sarah, Eleanor and Mary Carryl); and the ruins of Valle Crucis Abbey – a popular outing for the Ladies. (Note: there are more pictures than the thumbnails on the opening page!)

Gathering the Jewels also provides an interesting set of photographs, including some of the few relics of the Ladies on display at Plas Newydd, like Sarah’s drawstring bag and an exquisite little pair of shoes purportedly belonging to Eleanor; pieces from their Coalport china teaset and their  mahogony portable writing desk; most exciting are the portraits: including what may be a youthful Eleanor (Lady in a Tall Hat); the Mary Parker watercolor of 1828 (painted from life, though surreptitiously, the year before Eleanor’s death).

 

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Ireland, Wales, France, and same-sex relationships: Madame de Genlis and the Ladies of Llangollen | The culture of travel
  2. Godfrey J Curtis
    Sep 15, 2017 @ 13:29:47

    Lord ossulston visited in September 1795 I have a diary showing this. is there any record of this visit? I wish to know the people accompanying him one of whom was a Mr Earle from Trinity College Cambridge. indeed ossulston himself was from Trinity

    Reply

  3. Godfrey J Curtis
    Sep 15, 2017 @ 13:39:56

    Lord ossulston visited the ladies in September 1795. I have a diary showing this. he was accompanied by a Mr Earle both of whom were from Trinity College Cambridge. I want to know particularly if you have any records of this, and who was the third person, the actual diarist, with them

    Reply

  4. Godfrey J Curtis
    Sep 15, 2017 @ 13:41:31

    I have done several times

    Reply

  5. Godfrey J Curtis
    Sep 15, 2017 @ 13:42:48

    I have done

    Reply

  6. Janeite Kelly
    Sep 16, 2017 @ 10:08:19

    Hi, Godfrey – Did the “comments” section give you trouble. The fourth comment seems prepared to say the same as the third, and I’m not sure if all were meant to continue some thought you had on the diary you’ve seen.

    My own collections of “visitors” and their sightings were from published accounts. This was collected in the early days of the internet, when I first began the Ladies of Llangollen blog as a website while working for a local college (we were all given access – if we wanted it – to some server space). I imported _most_ of the information I had to WordPress about eight years ago.

    Michael Freeman, who contributed greatly to this site, culled sightings from documents as well as published books. These I called “A Plas Newydd Timeline”; I do not see Lord Ossulston listed. So you may indeed have access to a diary that no one was aware of!

    _I_ am excessively interested to hear more! Ossulston’s mother was Emma Colebrooke, and my own research (on Emma Austen and Lady Smith, “Two Teens in the Time of Austen”) reference this same Colebrooke family. Also, it is from the Tankerville collection that some additional works of Margaret Meen’s botanical paintings have come into the collection at Kew.

    I’d love to pose this question to the readers in general and see if anyone has further thoughts on Ossulston’s trip in 1795. I’ll work on a blog post.

    UPDATE: You wrote a comment in 2011, Godfrey; have you definitively narrowed down the visit of the three men to the Ladies of Llangollen to September 1795? (Your early comment posted 1793 or 1794 as possibilities.)

    k

    Reply

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